Human Rights

Times Leader: Gita Sahgal, Cageprisoners and Amnesty

The Times says:

The victims of the worst oppressors of the past generation did not have lobbyists to alert Western public opinion to their fate. The reliable defence of the right of protest, speech and conscience — in Cambodia, Iraq, Rwanda and places of lesser horror — has fallen instead to an organisation with cramped offices, tight budgets and a network of volunteers. Amnesty International, founded in 1961, has become a near-synonym for the defence of universal human rights.

That reputation is irreplaceable. Yet through inexplicable insouciance, Amnesty is squandering it. It has collaborated with a group called Cageprisoners, which was established by Moazzam Begg, a British Muslim who is a former inmate at Guantánamo. Cageprisoners is not a defender of political liberty and the welfare of prisoners. It is a defender of radical Islam.

Gita Sahgal, the head of the gender unit of Amnesty’s international secretariat, has drawn attention to the cynicism of this association. Amnesty stands for a disinterested defence of human rights. Islamism is an ideology of theocratic and sexual repression. Having stated her concerns to Amnesty, Ms Sahgal went public with them this week. Within hours, she found herself suspended from her post. In an extraordinary inversion of its traditional role, Amnesty has stifled its own still small voice of conscience.

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